I write Ethics Crisis for SRF Global Translations, and readers can anonymously confess the most unethical thing they ever did in business so other readers can rate the transgression on a scale of one to ten. You’d have to be a murderer for the community to think you did anything unethical, so it does not surprise me that many people do not understand the ethical issues in the Edelman/Microsoft laptop giveaway controversy.
Marshall Kirkpatrick, one of the recipients of a VISTA loaded laptop, reports that now Microsoft wants the laptops back:
No good deed goes unpunished, right? You may have seen that other bloggers got review machines as well. Some of that coverage was not factual. As you write your review I just wanted to emphasize that this is a review pc. I strongly recommend you disclose that we sent you this machine for review, and I hope you give your honest opinions. Just to make sure there is no misunderstanding of our intentions I’m going to ask that you either give the pc away or send it back when you no longer need it for product reviews.
Thanks for your understanding, and happy reviewing,
Neville Hobson, calling it a “PR cock-up,” (perhaps the most perfect use of any phrase in eons!) says
“It’s all a bit messy, a situation that could have been largely avoided if there was a clear requirement that any blogger receiving the laptop must disclose that fact. That wasn’t the case.
If I’d been writing the invitation email, I would have included a sentence that might read something like this:
If you accept this invitation and receive the computer, you must make full disclosure in any blog posts you may publish that you received the machine and software from Microsoft for the purposes of review.
This isn’t bribery or astroturfing or anything nefarious like that. But without the requirement to disclose, you have ambiguity and opacity – things that got Edelman into trouble with Wal-Mart blogger relations programmes a few months ago and earlier this year.”
Robert Scoble “I think the Microsoft Vista Giveaway is an awesome idea”
Crunch Gear: Love Will Tear Us Apart: Microsoft Wants Their Laptops Back
WebPro News: Payola Becomes Blogola, Courtesy of Microsoft
WebMetrics Guru: “Looks like Edelman got caught with their pants down again.”
Marketing Canapes: “Edelman PR establishes itself as chief whore-monger”
Tech Crunch: “I don’t think it’s much of a scandal.”
Slashdot: Microsoft Bribing Bloggers With Laptops
Alan Patrick: Why Giving Ferraris to Bloggers is a Bad Idea